Cishan 旗山 is the famous banana producing town in Kaohsiung. However, there is a smaller banana town just before Cishan that in my opinion should be just as well-known. Xizhou 溪洲 is that town.
Xizhou is smaller than Cishan and doesn’t have the great old street that Cishan has, but it’s just as interesting. And like many small towns of its size, it had a movie theater.
After a long day of banana farming the farmers and their families wanted a place to relax and watch plays, traditional puppet shows 布袋戲, and of course films. This was the place.
Dazhou Theater 大洲戲院 was built sometime in the mid-1950s. I couldn’t find the exact date but was built post World War 2. It does have some Japanese Era influence in design. But it seems post- war. The theater held about 100 people. Also, since the farmers had to wake up early in the morning shows would often start around 4 or 5pm. It was for a long time the center of activity in the town and drew crowds from the town and the surrounding area.
But as with most old stand-alone theaters in Taiwan, this theater slowly went into decline as TVs became more commonplace and the price of bananas started to drop and people left the rural areas for the big cities. It eventually shut down in 1982.
Cishan District used to have three theaters Cishan Theater, Xiantang Theater(旗山、仙堂及大洲) but unfortunately, this is the only one that is left.
Cishan 旗山 is, of course, an excellent town, with a rich history, a great old street老街, and many historical places to visit. But I feel that Xizhou 溪洲 is quite good and it shouldn’t be overlooked. I suggest going to Xizhou before noon so you see the morning market activity. There are also lots of old and interesting houses in the Xizhou area to check out. Ranging from the old sanheyuan 三合院 style to more modern style houses and everything in between.
The theater is easy to find just google 大洲戲院 and explore around the theater too. It’s a nice way to break up the drive to Cishan.
So if you ever drive to Cishan, don’t forget to stop in Xizhou, walk around, buy some banana products and of course visit the old theater and say hi!